Off-camera Speed light Workshop Training Day at Parkanaur Manor

Recently I had the pleasure of welcoming 10 photographers along to a full day workshop based on the use of off-camera speedlights in interior and exterior environments.

I had arranged that we would have exclusive use of the interior rooms and external grounds of Parkanaur Manor for the full day, so this was a very exciting prospect.

As we had 10 photographers I also decided that we would have two models and split the group in two, each group with a model each. I also had good friend and fellow photographer, Justin Hanna assist me, and in particular take care of all things Canon.

For models I asked Melissa and Sheree, both selected because of their previous modelling experience in workshop environments. We also had hair styling by Sarah Tiny and makeup application throughout the day by Catherine Fleming MUA and Melissa Lyttle MUA.

The objective of the day was to show speedlights being used creatively, both in difficult and low interior lighting conditions, and also in outdoor locations to maximise the use of a venue and its surroundings.

Here’s a selection of photos from the day and some brief narrative on what was being shown and achieved.


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This was our starting point for the day and it seemed appropriate to have Melissa in bridal wear. Firstly because Parkanaur Manor is a premier wedding venue, and secondly because several of the photographers attending were real life wedding photographers, so this was a useful setup.

Even before we brought Melissa in, the dark rich panelling and fireplace was an ideal backdrop to show control of light from a speed light, and how to mix it with available light, even low amounts of it like we had here.

On this setup we used two speedlights, and because natural light levels were low we used it only as fill light, choosing to use off camera flash from our speed lights as the main light source.


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A quick iPhone capture of behind the scenes during setup, though various lights are being moved around here during setup.



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Meanwhile in another room Sheree was positioned against a vintage wallpapered panel.

Again speedlight was our principal light here with a small amount of ambient light for fill light. This was all about the light modification used with the speed light to create a semi-soft light and a natural vignette.



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Melissa, one of our makeup artists was happy to do some modelling too, such was the potential within the Manor for a wide choice of locations and with 10 photographers there was plenty of scope.
Here this was about control of the light and mixing with low levels of ambient light already there.



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Back to Melissa again and here we used a feature wall in the Library. A mix of ambient light and speedlight again, with consideration to how the speedlight was positioned and used.

This was an easy and obvious natural light picture also which I encouraged the photographers to capture, and then by adding flash and changing exposure it created a completely different, much more dramatic and contrasty photo.



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This was one of my favourites of the day. A discussion started around using the natural light if possible, and on this occasion to use the strong window light as a back rim light.

A flash was brought in to fill from the front and the trick was to balance it correctly. Positioning of Sheree was critical.



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A variation of the library photo above but using the same principals.



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Moving outside. The photographers themselves found this row of stonework columns as a setting and it worked very well.

This started out with our photographers having Melissa facing the opposite direction and produced some great results. My preference though was to adjust it a little in turning Melissa as shown here, and use the sun as a backlight on both Melissa and on the face of the stone columns.



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A dramatic look created by off camera flash and very quick and easy to set up. Something like this is great to showcase the venue/location.

We had quite a detailed explanation here about the precise positioning of our model, Sheree regarding light falling on her before flash was added.

The sunlit wall was everything here, and we even had a bit of serendipitous cloud 🙂



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The evening light was perfect and provided endless possibilities. Here we had a discussion about using it as a backlight and how best to make it more visible.

This was composed to deliberately take the sky out of the picture and the correct placement and amount of fill flash added from an off-camera speedlight.



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While this was an off-camera speedlight day, I was keen to stress that if a natural light picture is there – take it!



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Another iPhone capture behind the scenes near the end of the day, and shows the lighting typically we were in.








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